Review of The Southwest Florida Symphony Opening of its 55th Season of Masterworks, A Symphonic Storybook, with the Symphonic Chorale of Southwest Florida and The Fort Myers Mastersingers performing Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana

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By: Janis Noland

Reviewed Saturday, November 21st, 2015

How does The Southwest Florida Symphony “Lee County’s professional orchestra and the one of oldest on Florida’s gulf coast” opens its 55th anniversary season? With a very technically challenging piece of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana with the assistance of the Symphonic Chorale of Southwest Florida and the Fort Myers Symphonic Mastersingers, of course. To begin, Orff’s Carmina Burana should only be attempted by full orchestra’s whose musicians, singers and conductor that can totally control the massive undertaking of coordinating each segment to blend in perfectly as required to give the audience members a stunning experience of a master Choral piece that literally brings chills to those who are in tune with highlights of the section that brings it all together. To say the Southwest Florida Symphony, Symphonic Chorale of Southwest Florida and the Fort Myers Symphonic Mastersingers performed it well, would be an understatement of the year. They performed at such a high level accomplishment it would be a tour quality performance, and would be well received in the cities it visits. The opening evening celebration had a very informative talk to those who were inclined to listen. Also the champagne and tasty hors d’oeuvre made the start of the evening in anticipation of what was to come. Everything was absolutely perfect in the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall, Ft. Myers where it was held. The ushers were very quick to greet and those involved with the symphony were very cordial. After seeing the performance, there was an after party, which included champagne and and hors d’oeuvre to all which allowed to meet and talk to those who made this production happen. Indeed it was a big night for the Symphony and all those involved, but what’s more, I have been telling others what they had missed… and now they feel bad! They are now more aware of the offerings the Southwest Florida Symphony has. Would I see it again? Absolutely! Would I bring others, you bet! The ticket prices were extremely budget friendly starting at $ 24 and up. Any place in the Hall is decent to have the entire structure filled with exquisite music from superb musicians.



The Southwest Florida Symphony Opens its 55th Season of Masterworks, A Symphonic Storybook, in partnership with the Symphonic Chorale of Southwest Florida and The Fort Myers Mastersingers
Fort Myers, Florida- The Southwest Florida Symphony, Lee County’s professional orchestra and the one of oldest on Florida’s gulf coast, opens its 55th anniversary season in collaboration with two of Lee County’s largest choral organizations; the Symphonic Chorale of Southwest Florida and the Fort Myers Symphonic Mastersingers. This performance boasts more than 220 musicians and singers combined onstage for a breathtaking performance of Carmina Burana. “Collaborative performances, particularly with other music organizations, are the ultimate way to share a love of great music,” said the symphony’s acting executive director, Amy Ginsburg Padilla. “Plus, it gives us all an opportunity to grow; exposing our respective audiences to what we each have to offer as individual organizations. Everyone wins.” The Santa Barbara Symphony, also led by Maestro Kabaretti, collaborated in much the same way with the Santa Barbara Choral Society and the State Street Ballet Theater in mid-October of this year for its season opener and sold out two performances.

Carmina Burana with the Symphonic Chorale of Southwest Florida and the Fort Myers Symphonic Mastersingers happens on Saturday, November 21st, 2015 at Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall at 8:00 p.m. Prior to the performance, at 7p.m., patrons are invited to attend a conductor led pre-concert lecture. These lectures are offered in order to better educate audiences about the pieces being performed. Tickets cost between $24 and $84 per person and may be purchased online at, by visiting the Southwest Florida Symphony Box Office located at 8290 College Parkway, Suite 103 in Fort Myers, by calling the Symphony Box Office at (239) 418-1500 or at the door, one and a half hours prior to the concert. Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall is located at 13350 FSW Parkway in Fort Myers.

About the Symphonic Chorale of Southwest Florida
Although the Symphonic Chorale of Southwest Florida was incorporated in 2011, it has a long history in this community. Many of its singers were former members of the Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra Chorus, an ensemble of 80 to 100 vocalists that performed with the Symphony for nearly 50 years. Concerts during its 2014-15 season included works by Michael Haydn and Vivaldi. Choral legend Robert Page presided over a choral fest culminating in a concert featuring arias from the complete Messiah. This year, the Chorale welcomes its new artistic director, Dr. Trent Brown, who also serves as the associate professor of music at Florida Gulf Coast University where he directs all choral ensembles, teaches courses in choral literature, conducting and secondary vocal methods, and serves as a Faculty Scholar for the University’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP).

Fort Myers Symphonic Mastersingers
The Fort Myers Symphonic Masterisingers is a select ensemble of singers who enjoy a reputation of musical excellence and are dedicated to the performance of significant choral works by Verdi, Bach, Handel, Mozart, Mendelssohn and other classical composers, as well as innovative programs.

Since forming in 2001, the Mastersingers have grown from a small chorus to an eighty-plus voice ensemble of men and women dedicated to excellence in music. We are a diverse group of vocal musicians who represent all walks of life: doctors, lawyers, homemakers, nurses, businessmen and women, music educators, musicians, and retirees. We require of our choral members a love of singing, consistent rehearsal attendance, and a commitment to our goal of excellence.
Our Mastersingers have the desire to improve their singing skills, the satisfaction of singing with an outstanding group of singers, and the opportunity to sing the challenging music of the masters under the baton of our talented artistic director, Jeff Faux.

Each season we present five to seven concerts in various venues in Southwest Florida. In some of those concerts we are accompanied by orchestra; others are a Capella or accompanied by piano or organ. Our focus is choral music and all music selections are made as much for the enjoyment of our singers as for the audience. The Mastersingers’ repertoire includes music in languages as diverse as Latin, German, French, and Russian, as well as English. Our soloists are nationally recognized professionals — either guests of the Mastersingers, or professionals within our own chorus.

Masterworks I: Carmina Burana and Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony is conducted by the Southwest Florida Symphony’s internationally renowned music director, Maestro Nir Kabaretti. The Maestro and the orchestra invite you to take a walking tour of the Austrian countryside along with Ludwig van Beethoven as they perform his Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68, the Pastoral Symphony. Beethoven paints a vivid musical picture of murmuring brooks, woodland birds, merry peasants and even the occasional thunderstorm in the unusual five-movement structure of this epic work.

For the second half of the concert, Maestro Kabaretti and the orchestra are joined by acclaimed soloists, soprano, Jenna Black, tenor, Ben Brecher and baritone, Anton Belov along with The Symphonic Chorale of Southwest Florida and The Fort Myers Symphonic Mastersingers to take a walk on the wild side of the Middle Ages in Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, complete with tales of roasting swans, drunken monks and all the sensual pleasures and perils of love, while Fortune’s wheel relentlessly turns. We are grateful to the Southwest Florida Symphony Society for sponsoring the first Masterworks Concert of the season.

Southwest Florida Symphony General Information
The Southwest Florida Symphony is the only professional orchestra in Lee County and the one of the oldest on Florida’s gulf coast. It enters its 55th season this year, having made its debut as a community orchestra on April 15, 1961. Conducted by Arlo Deibler, the Symphony began its life as a community orchestra and its original roster consisted of 24 musicians. It performed in community centers and schools throughout Lee and Collier Counties. It has since grown to become Lee County’s only professional symphony orchestra, filling Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall with symphonic music enthusiasts and a roster consisting of more than 65 world-class musicians. The Southwest Florida Symphony’s 55th year promises to be a season of continued enthusiasm as internationally acclaimed Maestro Nir Kabaretti leads the symphony into another season of blockbuster performances. Maestro Kabaretti is the fifth music director in the organization’s history. His presence and caliber of musicality garnered record setting attendance at many of the symphony’s 2014-15 Masterworks Concerts. The Southwest Florida Symphony’s mission is to celebrate the joy of music and to inspire audiences with a variety of quality concerts performed by professional musicians that are accessible to all.
This season features the Southwest Florida Symphony’s signature Masterworks Classical Concert Series, entitled A Symphonic Storybook (November 21, Carmina Burana; January 23, One Thousand and One Nights; February 13, Love Triangle; March 5, A Night at the Opera; and April 2 & 3, The Shakespeare Experience), a special Holiday Pops concert entitled The Holidays in Paradise on December 16 & 17 at Flagler College in St. Augustine, December 19 at Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall, December 20 at BIG ARTS on Sanibel and December 21 at The Village Church at Shell Point; its Pops Series (Rodgers & Hammerstein Celebration on January 8 & 9; A Night at the Oscars on February 5 & 6; and My Sinatra on April 2 & 3), a chamber series called Small Stage Symphonies℠, performed at BIG ARTS on Sanibel Island (January 13, February 3 and March 23), Faith Presbyterian Church in Cape Coral (August 12, 2015, January 15 and March 22), The Village Church at Shell Point (August 13, 2015, January 14 and February 4), and at the Sidney & Berne Davis Arts Center (August 14, 2015 and March 21).
Maestro Nir Kabaretti bio
Nir Kabaretti comes to Southwest Florida from the Santa Barbara Symphony in California, where he also serves as music and artistic director. He enters his tenth season with Santa Barbara this year. He has been described as “a conductor with immense musicality and warm personality” by Maestro Zubin Mehta. Kabaretti has earned an impressive reputation across continents for his command of a vast symphonic and operatic repertoire.
Upon graduation from the prestigious University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, Kabaretti began working as coach and Chorus Master at the Vienna State Opera and the Salzburg Festival. He later advanced to positions as Assistant to the Music Director at the Teatro Real in Madrid and Personal Assistant to Maestro Zubin Mehta at Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Florence, Italy.
Nir Kabaretti has worked with some of the world’s most sought-after musicians, such as Lang Lang, Placido Domingo, Itzhak Perlman, and Hélène Grimaud. His guest conducting appearances have included the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, Orquesta Filarmonica de Buenos Aires, Orquestre National du Theatre du Capitole de Toulouse, Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, Orchestra del Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, Orchestra del Teatro Petruzzelli di Bari, Orchestra del Teatro Carlo Felice di Genova, Orchestra Sinfonica Giuseppe Verdi di Milano, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, Israel Chamber Orchestra, Haifa Symphony Orchestra, Vienna Chamber Orchestra, La Orquesta Sinfonica de Madrid, Real Orquesta Sinfònica de Sevilla, La Orquesta Filarmonica de Gran Canaria and the Bochumer Symphoniker.
He was appointed Principal Conductor of the Raanana Symphonette Orchestra in Israel in 2002, and later as its Music Director till 2008.
Kabaretti’s operatic experience includes productions at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Teatro Real in Madrid, The Israeli Opera, Opéra de Lausanne, Avenches Opera Festival in Switzerland, Tokyo New National Theatre and Opera Santa Barbara.
He conducted The Diary of Anne Frank, a guest production of the Vienna State Opera performed at both the Bregenz Festival and Expo 2000 in Hannover. In 2005, Kabaretti lead Teatro San Carlo di Napoli on its first tour to Japan, conducting Il Trovatore both in Kyoto and Tokyo.
During the 2004-05 season he made his debut at Teatro alla Scala di Milano. In 2007 he was invited again for the ballet production of Mendelssohn’s Midsummer night’s Dream (broadcasted by Italian television RAI, and released as a commercial DVD).
Maestro Kabaretti received the America-Israel Cultural Foundation Grant for Young Conductors. In 1993, he won the Forum Junger Künstler Conducting Competition in Vienna. In 1994 he was among the finalists in the International Competition for Conductors in Douai, France.
Click HERE for Jenna Black’s Bio
Click HERE for Ben Brecher’s Bio
Click HERE for Anton Belov’s Bio

Southwest Florida Symphony Sponsors
The Southwest Florida Symphony’s 2015-16 sponsors include The Southwest Florida Symphony’s Board of Trustees, The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, The City of Fort Myers, The State of Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, The Florida Council on Arts & Culture, The Southwest Florida Symphony Endowment Foundation, The Southwest Florida Symphony Society, The L.A.T. Foundation, Uhler & Vertich Financial Planners, Enterprise Rent-a-car, IberiaBank, The Neil Goldberg Dream Foundation, Rev. Gary & Mrs. Christine LaCroix, Mr. Charles B. Munsch, Mr. Don Fjellin, Ernie Fogg & Margot Flinn,‘Tween Waters Inn, Bailey’s General Store, Sanibel Captiva Community Bank, Crowne Plaza, Mastello Ristorante, Advanced Pain Management and Spine Specialists, Alexander & Hoover, LCEC, The Cape Coral Community Foundation, The Friends of the Symphony on Sanibel,  Mr. & Mrs. Steve and Charlotte Qua, Pamela Templeton in honor of the Red Lipstick Foundation, Madeleine Taeni Suncoast Schools Credit Union and Mark Loren Designs.

Event: Southwest Florida Symphony’s Masterworks I: Carmina Burana & Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony
Date: Saturday, November 21, 2015
Location: Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall
Time: 8:00 p.m. with a pre-concert lecture at 7:00 p.m.
Tickets: $24-$84
For more information, call 239-418-1500 or visit

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